Your go-to guide to choosing the right pair of safety glasses

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

It’s arguably the most essential piece of PPE in the industry.

Protective eyewear plays a crucial role in tasks with a high risk of eye damage, saving us from a nasty trip to the emergency room – or worse, losing our eyesight. 

Whether you’re welding, grinding or handling corrosive chemicals, it’s essential to wear the correct type of eye protection and ensure they fit correctly.

But choosing the right eye safety gear isn’t as simple as picking up a new pair of sunnies. Model variation, lens material, fit, tinting and coatings are other vital factors to be considered when selecting safety glasses. 

So, before you go wearing your Ray-Bans while using an angle grinder, consider this helpful guide to select your next pair of safety glasses.

Are my current safety glasses suitable?

Unlike conventional glasses, the “one size fits all” approach doesn’t apply to safety eyewear. 

It is essential your safety glasses provide adequate coverage and rests as close to your face as possible to minimise the risk of injury when undertaking high-risk tasks. 

You need to find the right size and fit for your head, making sure that the design and materials used meet your individual needs as they can impact your field of vision, along with the protection, and wearability the safety glasses offer.

5-step safety glasses suitability test:

  1. Do they fit your face snuggly?
  2. Do they provide eye protection from all angles?
  3. Is your peripheral vision unobstructed?
  4. Are they comfortable enough to wear for long periods?
  5. Do they stay in place when performing work tasks/under heavy movement?

How to choose the right size?

We asked uvex product manager James Dibou what we should look for from a good pair of safety glasses.

“The best safety glasses for you are the ones that fit you best. safety eyewear isn’t “one size fits all.” When your safety glasses fit poorly or incorrectly, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of injury. Head and face shapes vary considerably so it’s impossible to find one pair that works for everyone,” he said.

That makes sense, but when you put on a pair of glasses, what should you be looking for?

Dibou explains that “According to the Australian and New Zealand Safety Eyewear standards, the design and shape of safety spectacles should be in alignment (as much as possible) with the shape of the wearer’s face – the gaps formed between the frame edges and the face should be minimised by selecting a frame that closely follows the individual’s facial contours. Do this by trialling several pairs that match your face shape and minimise any gap between the frame edges and your head”.

“Before you rush to the cash register, perform a movement and performance test.  Make head movements with angles and motions you may typically perform on the work site.”

Using uvex’s post-fitting tips below, you can confirm that the glasses will stay secure while on the tools.

Fitting checklist:

  • No uncomfortable pressure points on the side of the head or behind the ears
  • The nose piece is comfortable and does not pinch.
  • Good visibility in all directions.
  • The weight of eyewear is evenly distributed.
  • Frames fit close to your face without hitting your eyelashes.
  • The space around the frames and your face should be under 8mm.
  • Gaps between the frame and the face are as small as possible.
  • Lenses cover your eyebrow and any surrounding area.
  • Safety glasses stay in place when you move your head.

You can find more information about correct fitting at the uvex website.

What else should you look out for?

James Dibou advises that the correct fit isn’t the only thing to consider when buying safety eyewear.

“Always check for the glasses’ compliance labels and markings to ensure they meet the Australian and New Zealand Safety Eyewear Standard,” he said. 

The glasses should indicate that they meet the standard AS/NZS 1337.1:2010 as supported by Standards Australia. They should also have labels that indicate the manufacturer, the impact rating, lens category number and any additional certifications.

You should also consider your choice of lens, tint, and coating – do they meet the challenges of your specific workplace and the tasks you perform? Lens coatings should offer resistance against fogging and scratching.

If you find signs of damage on your glasses, like cracks or deep scratches, the glasses ability to protect you properly may be compromised.

Check that the lenses on your glasses are clean and free from smudges, dirt, or any other substances that may block your vision.

You can find information on how to properly clean your lenses on the uvex site

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.